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News of 05.11.2019

Only one in five universities of applied sciences are headed by a woman

The typical head of a state university of applied sciences (UAS) is male, aged 57, has been in office for seven years, and comes from western Germany. These are the findings of an analysis conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education. The curricula vitae of around 100 incumbent UAS presidents and rectors were analysed in the process.

The average age of rectors or presidents of state universities of applied sciences in Germany is 57. Around a quarter of the heads originate from North Rhine-Westphalia. Roughly one in ten university heads were born in Eastern Germany.

The gender ratio presents clear results. Only one in five universities of applied sciences are led by a woman. This proportion is therefore even lower than for heads of universities (as of December 2018). A male holds the position of rector or president in three out of four universities.

“Female UAS heads continue to be the exception rather than the rule in Germany,“ summarised Frank Ziegele. The CHE Executive Director would also like to see a more balanced gender ratio with regard to young talent in science management. “For today’s good female students to become tomorrow’s top women researchers and executives, female role models need to be present on campus – from professor to president.“

The heads’ educational backgrounds present a much more differentiated picture. Biographies demonstrating extensive practical experience are also typical of the UAS sector, explained Isabel Roessler, who led the study. “One in eight UAS heads completed an apprenticeship before studying. Qualified carpenters or gardeners can also be found among the leaders of universities of applied sciences, which cannot be said for university heads,“ remarked Roessler. “Also, given that virtually UAS heads have several years of professional experience, they are very familiar with the extramural world. As a result, they know the best way to shape the application-oriented approach of their respective UAS.“

The regional rootedness of UAS heads is also striking. More than half of the leaders of universities of applied sciences in North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony-Anhalt, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg come from the federal state where they are engaged. More than 25 per cent of UAS heads are “local” in another six federal states.
Other biographical facts are also remarkable: around half of UAS heads spent a considerable period of time abroad. On average, they spent 8.7 years working outside the higher education system. One-third of all UAS leaders have previously worked at a university.

“50 years after the first university of applied sciences was founded in Germany, the managerial responsibilities at these higher education institutions are more complex than ever before. They are expected to solve global challenges and to have a good regional network; to introduce students to cutting-edge research and to develop practice-based solutions for medium-sized enterprises,“ stated Frank Ziegele. These different demands are also reflected as examples in the diversity of the curricula vitae analysed, which in some cases differ considerably from those of university heads.

The aim of the CHE analysis it to create transparency in the situation of managers at German higher education institutions. Back in January, CHE analysed the curricula vitae of 81 university heads. The investigation is to be extended to UAS chancellors in 2020. University management has regularly been the subject of studies or events ever since CHE was founded 25 years ago. The “University Manager of the Year“ award was conferred for the 12th time in cooperation with the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT at the end of October 2019. Michael Hoch, Rector of the University of Bonn, won the jury prize this year.

CHE was also closely involved with the anniversary year of the founding of universities of applied sciences. In collaboration with the Technische Hochschule Lübeck, CHE created the official commemorative publication to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of universities of applied sciences. The festschrift was published in June 2019.

About this publication The author of the publication “CHECK – HAW-Leitungen in Deutschland” (CHECK − heads of UAS in Germany) is Isabel Roessler. More than 4,000 data were analysed. These data originated from the curricula vitae of UAS heads published on the internet, complemented by enquiries with presidential boards and rectorates. The study contains data from all 101 universities of applied sciences under public law. The survey was compiled between September and October 2019.


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